Appeals court dissolves July ruling on handgun sales to those under 21

An Appeals panel for the 4th Circuit court in Virginia on Wednesday threw out a gun rights ruling from July that said a law that prevents adults younger than 21 from purchasing hand guns is unconstitutional.

The Richmond panel unanimously ruled that the case was moot because the case’s plaintiff turned 21 before the court’s decision became official. 

The 1968 Gun Control Act prevents federally licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to individuals under 21, though the same rule does not apply to long guns. Some exceptions apply, but not for cases of general gun ownership. 

In July, the three-judge panel ruled that the law violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but the result was dissolved Wednesday because the plaintiff, now-21-year-old Natalia Marshall, no longer has a legally recognized interest in the case’s outcome. 

“Despite efforts to add parties and reframe her claimed injuries, it is too late to revive this case. So it must be dismissed as moot,” wrote Judge Julius N. Richardson for the court.

Marshall initially filed the suit several years ago when she wanted to purchase a handgun to defend herself against an abusive ex-boyfriend and other potential threats. She was denied the purchase due to her age. 

In the July decision, a 2-to-1 ruling, the panel found that the minimum age requirement for purchases from federally licensed dealers restricts the rights of law-abiding Americans. The panel additionally expressed concern that age restrictions prevented young adults from purchasing handguns, instead turning to unlicensed dealers. 

“It’s unfortunate that the government will evade the repercussions of the court’s thorough ruling simply because the nature of the laws at issue allow them to escape final review through our lengthy litigation process,” said the attorney for Marshall, adding “these laws are going to continue to be challenged.” 



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Kabul Airport Suicide Bomber Who Murdered 13 Americans Was Set Free from Bagram Prison After Joe Biden Abandoned the US Base in July #BidenEffect




Kabul Airport Suicide Bomber Who Murdered 13 Americans Was Set Free from Bagram Prison After Joe Biden Abandoned the US Base in July #BidenEffect




















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Retail Sales Surprisingly Increased Last Month After Plummeting In July

Retail sales unexpectedly increased last month despite continued challenges facing the economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales ticked up 0.7% in August relative to July and totaled $618.7 billion, according to a Census Bureau report published Thursday. E-commerce, furniture, general merchandise, building materials and energy purchases drove last month’s sales increase.

Dow Jones economists had expected sales to decline 0.8%, CNBC reported. In July retail sales posted a sharp 1.8% decline as coronavirus cases surged, the Census report said Thursday. (RELATED: Democrats Block Bills Prohibiting Tax Increases Until Unemployment Rate, Inflation Return To Pre-Pandemic Levels)

“We really got a head fake and this happens a lot. A couple of weeks ago it looked very disappointing,” National Securities Corporation Chief Market Strategist Art Hogan told Yahoo Finance. “It’s a classic example of consumers actually saying one thing and doing something else.”

People purchase tickets at the reopened box office for Broadway shows in Times Square on Tuesday in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

While the overall sales figure increased, the volatile automobile category saw a significant decline of 3.6%, according to the Census Bureau. Excluding car sales, total retail sales increased 1.8% in August compared to July.

Non-store retail sales, which mainly include online shopping, increased 5.3% month-over-month, the largest uptick of any category. E-commerce prices, though, have skyrocketed over the last year as a result of economy-wide inflationary pressures.

In addition, furniture sales increased 3.7%, general merchandise store sales rose 3.5%, food sales increased 1.8%, building materials sales grew 0.9% and gasoline sales ticked up 0.2%. Electronics and sporting goods sales declined by 3.1% and 2.7% respectively.

Inflation, meanwhile, has continued to rise to new multi-decade highs. Consumer prices rose an annual rate of 5.3% in August compared to their pre-pandemic average increase of 2.5%.

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Gambling revenues sink in July

Illinois sports betting had its worst month in nearly a year in July.

The state’s total handle of $369 million dollars was down more than 22.5% from June’s $476.5 million. It is the fourth straight month of sports handle decline, in line with the rest of the country. The total U.S. sports handle for July was down 23.9% from June.

Ron Fritz, analyst for the Gambling.com Group network, which includes IllinoisBet.com , said with the Chicago White Sox going to the playoffs and the NFL starting up, the numbers will rebound in the coming months.

“It will be interesting to see numbers from baseball combined with the NFL,” Fritz said. “That is why I think August and September could threaten the record of $632 million in March.”

In June, despite a drop in sports betting handle, the state saw revenue and taxes increase. It was a different story for July. Sports betting revenue was $37.6 million, nearly a 21% drop from June.

State taxes collected were also down. July sports betting taxes amounted to $6.1 million, a 20.9% decline from June’s $7.7 million, making it a dicey proposition in relying on stable tax revenues.

As for the betting websites, FanDuel was the top earner for the month, bring in just over $15.5 million in revenue. DraftKings was second with just over $9.5 million.

Despite the recent downward trend in Illinois sports betting, Fritz is not surprised the state has been one of the leaders in the country in the industry.

“I am not surprised at all,” Fritz said. “Even with in-person registration that Gov. [J.B.] Pritzker reinstated after COVID, mobile numbers have not been affected greatly by that.”





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Japan’s July household spending rises less than expected

FILE PHOTO: People wear protective masks in a shopping district amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, December 14 , 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo/File Photo

September 7, 2021

By Kantaro Komiya and Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s household spending grew less than expected in July as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases hindered consumer activity, throwing broader economic recovery prospects into doubt.

The world’s third-largest economy is struggling to shake off the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the government to impose new state of emergency restrictions that now cover about 80% of the population.

Household spending rose 0.7% year-on-year in July, after a revised 4.3% fall in June, government data showed on Tuesday. That was weaker than a median market forecast for a 2.9% gain in a Reuters poll.

The modest rise in July was partly due to a sharp contraction in the same month last year, when household spending slumped 7.6% year-on-year as consumers delayed spending on things such as travel and overnight stays due to the health crisis.

The month-on-month figures showed a 0.9% contraction in July, the third straight month of decline, the internal affairs ministry data showed, dashing expectations for 1.1% growth.

“Face-to-face leisure services stayed weaker with worsening COVID-19 infections and the reinstatement of state of emergency curbs in Tokyo,” said Masato Koike, an economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“Going forward, the tug-of-war between worsening infections and vaccination will keep services spending volatile.”

Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute, said continued infections could have dragged private consumption even lower in August.

Spending on food, leisure and transportation rose year-on-year while spending on consumer electronics, utility payments and face masks fell.

Separate data on Tuesday showed inflation-adjusted real wages in July rose 0.7% from the same month a year earlier, though the gain was also because of a flattered comparison with last year’s steep pandemic-driven drop.

But the data was unlikely to dispel worries that Japan’s economy is at risk of slowing down in the third quarter, as explosive growth in COVID-19 cases at home and in other parts of Asia weighs on consumer and corporate activity.

Revised gross domestic product (GDP) data on Wednesday is expected https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-seen-upgrading-q2-gdp-stronger-business-spending-2021-09-03 to show the economy grew faster than initially reported in the second quarter, helped by stronger business spending.

(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Daniel Leussink and Sam Holmes)





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Biden Lied and People Died: Joe Knew in July That Taliban Takeover Was Imminent

President Biden (AP Images)

“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” 1984 informed us — and the botched Afghanistan withdrawal is an “extraordinary success.” That’s the world according to Joe Biden, who thus characterized the military exit in his Tuesday night speech. He also “blamed the victims,” as commentator Monica Showalter put it, claiming that his people had repeatedly warned the Americans stranded in Afghanistan to leave, but they decided to stay.

But one could ask: Had they warned the $83 billion in military equipment they left behind to leave, too?

Did this hardware, which makes the Taliban one of the world’s best armed fighting forces, also insist on staying?

According to Showalter, Biden (or his handlers) rushed the withdrawal because he was determined to give a speech on August 31. He did, too, and it “was a bizarre speech, complete with lies, unseemly aggression, and internal contradictions,” writes Showalter. “The worst thing, though, was his insistence that those Americans left behind were responsible for the situation in which they find themselves.”

As Biden put it: “Since March, we reached out 19 times to Americans in Afghanistan, with multiple warnings and offers to help them leave Afghanistan — all the way back as far as March. After we started the evacuation 17 days ago, we did initial outreach and analysis and identified around 5,000 Americans who had decided earlier to stay in Afghanistan but now wanted to leave.”

Whether or not these hapless people received such notices, it wouldn’t be surprising if they’d wanted to stay and only later changed their minds. Remember that on July 8, Biden reassured the world at a White House press conference that the Taliban wasn’t a serious threat (as presented by Showalter):

Q    Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, it is not.

Q    Why?

THE PRESIDENT: Because you — the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped — as well-equipped as any army in the world — and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.

[snip]

Q    Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan. Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam, with some people feeling —

THE PRESIDENT: None whatsoever. Zero. What you had is — you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken. 

The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable. 

Well, their capability certainly isn’t comparable now because the North Vietnamese never had a larger helicopter fleet than every NATO country but the United States — and that’s what the Taliban now possess courtesy of the Bidenites.  

Note that Biden also wasn’t the only administration figure singing this confident tune. For example, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said at a July 21 press conference that the “Afghan Security Forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country, and we will continue to support the Afghan Security Forces where necessary in accordance with the guidance from the president and the secretary of defense.” (Mere weeks later, on August 15, the Taliban swept into Kabul.)

Should the Americans in Afghanistan have been less confident than the commander in chief and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

(Actually, yes, but these people likely don’t read The New American!)

Showalter mentions that Biden (or his handlers) knew his July 8 assessment would “haunt” him and attempted damage control during his speech. “The assumption was that more than 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces that we had trained over the past two decades and equipped would be a strong adversary in their civil wars with the Taliban,” he said.

“That assumption — that the Afghan government would be able to hold on for a period of time beyond military drawdown — turned out not to be accurate.”

Yet if Biden (or his handlers) didn’t know the above earlier, they surely knew it on July 23 — and withheld the truth. This is certain now that someone leaked to Reuters a transcript of perhaps the final phone call, a July 23 conversation, between Biden and Afghanistan’s erstwhile president, Ashraf Ghani.

As Reuters reports: “‘We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this,’ Ghani said. Afghan government officials, and U.S. experts, have consistently pointed to Pakistani support for the Taliban as key to the group’s resurgence.”

Biden reassured Ghani — partially by telling him to focus on “optics” and participate in administration dissembling.

“In much of the call, Biden focused on what he called the Afghan government’s ‘perception’ problem,” Reuters also relates. “‘I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,’ Biden said. “‘And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.’”

“‘I’m not a military guy, so I’m not telling you what a plan should precisely look like, you’re going to get not only more help, but you’re going to get a perception that is going to change…,’ Biden said [to Ghani],” the site further related.

A day later, Milley, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and U.S. Central Command commander General Frank McKenzie also gave Ghani a victory-narrative pep talk. Yet this “magical thinking,” as Showalter puts it, is par for the course.

What “they did is typical for leftists, who are ‘word people,’” she writes rather insightfully. “To them, saying something makes it real — and they’ve certainly had a lot of success in America with Critical Race Theory. Changing attitudes through indoctrination, however, doesn’t work in a war, when the only reality that matters is who’s shooting and who’s running.  By the end of July, it was clear who was doing what, yet Biden never escalated the threat level for those Americans in Afghanistan.”

Showalter’s point shouldn’t be dismissed. The “eye altering alters all,” wrote poet William Blake. And I’ve said before and will again as many times as necessary because it illustrates the matter perfectly, image-is-reality types who believe a boy can become a girl just by willing it can believe anything.

If one takes them at their word, these pseudo-elites have never learned, apparently, what I began saying in my teens: “Life is not a movie.” (I discovered decades later that actress Gene Tierney said it long before.) No, you can’t just focus your mind and do whatever you wish, grasshopper; and, no, Luke, you can’t just turn off your equipment and use the “Force” to destroy the Death Star. Only God is without limitation, and reality is a tough taskmaster.

And Ghani, an ex-college professor who fled Afghanistan and has received much criticism, surely knew that he couldn’t “perceive” his way to not being tortured and hanged by the Taliban. Unlike Biden & Co., he had his own skin in the game and might have concluded his American “guarantors” were loony tunes. On other other hand, as the U.S. withdrawal fiasco unfolded, he might have wondered instead if his “guarantors” were really that loony — or if their deceptions and actions were motivated by something more Machiavellian and malevolent.



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Excerpts of call between Joe Biden and Ashraf Ghani July 23

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WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani spoke by phone July 23. Here are excerpts from that call, based on a transcript and recording reviewed by Reuters:

BIDEN: Mr. President. Joe Biden.

GHANI: Of course, Mr. President, such a pleasure to hear your voice.

BIDEN: You know, I am a moment late. But I mean it sincerely. Hey look, I want to make it clear that I am not a military man any more than you are, but I have been meeting with our Pentagon folks, and our national security people, as you have with ours and yours, and as you know and I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban.

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And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture. …..

BIDEN: If you empower Bismillah [Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi] to execute a strategy focused on key parts of the population centers, and I’m not a military guy, so I’m not telling you what that plan should precisely look like, you’re going to get not only more help, but you’re going to get a perception that is going to change in terms of how , um….. our allies and folks here in the States and other places think you’re doing.

You clearly have the best military, you have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well, we will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is and what we are doing. And all the way through the end of August, and who knows what after that.

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We are also going to continue to make sure your air force is capable of continuing to fly and provide air support. In addition to that we are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows because it is clearly in the interest of the people of Afghanistan, that you succeed and you lead. And though I know this is presumptuous of me on one hand to say such things so directly to you, I have known you for a long while, I find you a brilliant and honorable man.

But I really think, I don’t know whether you’re aware, just how much the perception around the world is that this is looking like a losing proposition, which it is not, not that it necessarily is that, but so the conclusion I’m asking you to consider is to bring together everyone from [Former Vice President Abdul Rashid] Dostum, to [Former President Hamid] Karzai and in between, if they stand there and say they back the strategy you put together, and put a warrior in charge, you know a military man, [Defense Minister Bismillah] Khan in charge of executing that strategy, and that will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think. …

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GHANI: Mr. President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of.

Second, what is crucial is, close air support, and if I could make a request, you have been very generous, if your assistance, particularly to our air force be front loaded, because what we need at this moment, there was a very heavily reliance on air power, and we have prioritized that if it could be at all front-loaded, we will greatly appreciate it.

And third, regarding procedure for the rest of the assistance, for instance, military pay is not increased for over a decade. We need to make some gestures to rally everybody together so if you could assign the national security advisor or the Pentagon, anyone you wish to work with us on the details, so our expectations particularly regarding your close air support. There are agreements with the Taliban that we [or “you” this is unclear] are not previously aware of, and because of your air force was extremely cautious in attacking them.

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And the last point, I just spoke again to Dr. Abdullah earlier, he went to negotiate with the Taliban, the Taliban showed no inclination. We can get to peace only if we rebalance the military situation. And I can assure you…

BIDEN:

GHANI: And I can assure you I have been to four of our key cities, I’m constantly traveling with the vice president and others, we will be able to rally. Your assurance of support goes a very long way to enable us, to really mobilize in earnest. The urban resistance, Mr. President is been extraordinary, there are cities that have taken a siege of 55 days and that have not surrendered. Again, I thank you and I’m always just a phone call away. This is what a friend tells a friend, so please don’t feel that you’re imposing on me.

BIDEN: No, well, look, I, thank you. Look, close air support works only if there is a military strategy on the ground to support. (Reporting by Aram Roston and Nandita Bose)

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Japan’s July factory output slips as COVID-19 hits car production

Employees wearing protective face masks and face guards work on the automobile assembly line as the maker ramps up car production with new security and health measures as a step to resume full operations, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Kawasaki factory of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., owned by Germany-based Daimler AG, in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

August 31, 2021

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s industrial output shrank in July as car production took a hit from a coronavirus resurgence in Asia that has cast doubt over the recovery in the world’s third-largest economy.

A spike in highly contagious Delta variant cases has forced governments in Asia to impose fresh lockdowns and curbs, which are causing disruptions in parts supply across the region, adding to a global chip shortage.

“There’s a risk output will stall heading into the year-end,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

“Car production is likely to be a drag on output in August and September.”

Factory output dropped 1.5% in July from the previous month, official data showed on Tuesday, hit by a decline in the production of autos, including passenger cars and small buses.

The fall offset growing output of production machinery items, such as those used for manufacturing semiconductors, and electronic parts and devices.

That meant output fell back below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels again after surging 6.5% in the prior month, though it was stronger than a 2.5% drop forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expected output to advance 3.4% in August and 1.0% in September.

Overall output was projected to get a boost from a sharp jump in production machinery manufacturing next month, even as that of transport equipment, which includes car production, was seen shrinking more than 7% from the previous month.

But the forecast for the decline in transport equipment was probably not fully factoring in parts supply disruptions in Southeast Asia, a government official said.

Toyota Motor Corp, the world’s largest automaker by sales volume, said this month it would cut September production by 40% from its previous plan due to the chip crunch.

Manufacturers’ finely tuned supply chains mean carmakers often optimise car parts supplies, increasing the risk of output delays once inventories run out and replacement parts fail to turn up, said Minami.

Separate data on Tuesday showed the jobless rate edged down for the second straight month, dropping to 2.8% from 2.9% in June, with the actual number of those unemployed posting the first year-on-year fall in 18 months.

An index gauging job availability gained slightly to 1.15 from 1.13 in June, labour ministry data showed.

Japan’s economy expanded an annualised 1.3% in the second quarter, driven by solid consumption and exports.

But growth is expected to remain modest in the current quarter, with some analysts forecasting a possible contraction, as the country struggles with a COVID-19 resurgence, which has burdened medical facilities and shows no signs of abating.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Additional reporting by Kentaro Sugiyama and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Sam Holmes)





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$897 Million in NFT Sales Took Place in July and August

Beeple, ‘Everydays – The First 5000 Days,’ NFT. Christie’s

NFTs, the non-fungible tokens stored on the blockchain that have popped up on the auction circuit frequently, have drawn both the scorn and admiration of the art world, but their sales have shown few signs of slowing down. After a gully earlier in the year that had some speculating that the whole NFT craze was nothing more than a novel bubble, new data from the NFT tracking site NonFungible indicates that $897 million in NFT sales took place in July and August during a 30 day period that ended on August 18th. Earlier in the year, NFT sales also spiked in the second quarter, but this new total is certainly striking on its own.

That being said, certain experts are also postulating that the current surge in sales is taking place because certain inexperienced buyers and creators are hopping on the bandwagon. “What is happening right now is the equivalent of me hearing that a major contemporary painter has sold something for millions of dollars and I, someone with no art skill or experience says, ‘Well I guess I better start painting because any paint on canvas is selling for millions,’” Stephane Ouellette, the chief executive and co-founder of FRNT Financial, told Bloomberg News.

“These were people too slow to capitalize the first time around,” Aaron Brown, a crypto investor added to Bloomberg in the same piece. “Since all of them seem driven by cynical calculation for money rather than any vision of NFTs, I suspect things will soon collapse.”

If NFTs are actually about to collapse as a commodity, the art world has already made major adjustments that it’ll have to reckon with. Christie’s, for example, recently offered NFT versions of groundbreaking digital art made by Andy Warhol in the 1980s, and Sotheby’s has launched a virtual gallery structured to function with the Ethereum blockchain so that it has a custom-designed platform for the sale of NFTs.

$897 Million in NFT Sales Took Place in July and August, New Report Finds



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Colorado’s unemployment rate dips slightly to 6.1% in July

Colorado’s unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.1% in July, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced on Friday.

The move represents a 0.1% drop from June. It comes after the state’s economy added more than 14,800 jobs last month, marking the seventh consecutive month of job growth in the state.

Over the same time period, the national unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, CDLE said.

Rural counties continue to have higher unemployment rates than more densely populated counties. Pueblo, Huerfano, and Las Animas counties rank as the state’s top-three counties for unemployment.

Despite the elevated unemployment in certain parts of the state, one reason the statewide unemployment rate dropped in July is because Colorado’s labor force shrunk by 2,800 people.

CDLE figures show Colorado’s participation rate in July was 68.3%, which is below the state’s pre-pandemic rate of 68.7% in February 2020.

Meanwhile, Colorado is outperforming the national job market in terms of job recovery rate. Over the last 15 months, Colorado has gained back 290,400 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April 2020, translating to a recovery rate of 77.4%, according to CDLE.

For comparison, the national job market has recovered just over 74% of its nonfarm payroll jobs lost.

The three industries showing the most job growth were professional services, hospitality, and health care services. These industries combined accounted for nearly two-thirds of the overall job growth with more than 10,000 jobs created.

At the same time, the average workweek in Colorado increased by 0.7 hours to 33.9 hours per week.

The average hourly earnings in Colorado also increased by $1.33 month-over-month, CLDE data shows. Workers are now averaging $31.84 per hour, which is $1.30 above the national average.





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